I don’t know how to date. This has come to my attention in recent weeks, months, or more specifically, the last 15 years or so. Every relationship I’ve ever had, I’ve just sort of fallen into where dating wasn’t really part of the equation. I always thought I was lucky in this regard, but I no longer feel that way.
To me, dating is the worst. I do not care for it at all. And to be honest, most first dates rarely end up in a second, because I’m wonky and my social skills are definitely a bit questionable. Getting through a date is more stressful for me than fun; in fact, I find I’m more relaxed when I go to the gynecologist.
Recently, I went out with a gentleman caller. He was a friend of a friend. I was forced into it as some sort of distraction for a recent falling out with an on-again, off-again love interest who ended up falling so below par that being with him became heartbreaking and disappointing.
I had tried to emotionally prepare myself for the date (read: had a martini and a Xanax before heading out the door), and had also cried out any possible tears that might pop out later in the evening, as I am a bit on the emotional side lately. I had also gone to the effort of putting on lipstick and even shaved my legs right before just in case things got hot and heavy. I’ll actually admit my reason for going on the date was more to hoping to get laid than find some lasting sort of relationship. This, I fear, is the boy in me.
The martini and Xanax were a bad idea, of course. Halfway through the dinner, I proceeded to tell my date that I didn’t know how to date, that I hated dating and that I didn’t care to go through the process of ever getting to know anyone because I already knew everyone I wanted to know except for Ryan Gosling. Furthermore he, my date, should know that I already met my soulmate, and although he was probably drunk in a gutter somewhere in Bushwick, as I spoke those words, someday, it was going to make sense and said soulmate and I were going to get our shit together and it was going to be perfect in a fantasy world with pink unicorns and bunnies named Fred. Yes, that’s what I told my date in a round about way. I have not heard from him since.
Of course this makes perfect sense, because had someone told me some malarkey about pink unicorns and bunnies named Fred, I, too, would avoid them like the plague, and I like those things.
So I went home and had a moment similar to the one Annette Bening had in American Beauty – the one where she cries and smacks herself to stop being such a baby. I didn’t smack myself with my hand, but rather with words. And in the moment I was forced to recall the so many first dates I’ve been on, and all the reasons they never resulted in a second. Granted, 70% of the time the choice to not have a second date was mine because I have obscenely unrealistic standards and again live in a fantasy world where everything is perfect. However, that 30% was not in my control. I had literally lost the chance for another chance for the same reason I had with my most recent suitor: I just don’t know how to date.
I don’t know how to make small talk and have it involve into topics more interesting. I don’t care to ask questions or even offer up any information about myself. I don’t try to be charming, because it seems like such a waste since I’ve convinced myself that there are only three people who have ever existed for me in the history of the world and two are dead – F. Scott Fitzgerald and Henry Miller – and the other is drunk in a gutter in Bushwick. I am absolutely completely closed off and by most accounts a curmudgeon. Women my age should not be this way so early in the game, but I am. This does not make me innovative or even a maverick; it makes me a narrow-minded asshole. Someone please tell me why there isn’t a class out there I could take to remedy this issue, or at least teach me how to be more relatable to the opposite sex so there is the slightest hope of eventually procreating with someone, anyone.
This weekend, I’m going to try this dating thing again. Once again, a friend is setting me up. I have already decided there will be no pre-gaming in my apartment, no mention of my soulmate – although he is, FYI – nor will I bring up anything about mythical animals or my disappointment in the whole dating process. No, instead I will do what they do in the movies and smile a lot. I will laugh at jokes that aren’t funny and put my wonky ways on hold for the evening if only to prove to myself that I can get to a second date and maybe even a third or fourth. Although to be honest, a don’t see a fifth one happening… by then I will have unleashed the real me and that takes a certain breed to be able to handle that level of madness, er, uniqueness.
Here’s hoping it’s just a “not enough practice” thing as opposed to a “missing the dating gene” thing, but I guess only time will tell.